Chinese rockers fight for musical dignity(Shenzhen Daily 2004-09-22)
The aftermath of the "Glorious Path of Chinese Rock'n'Roll" festival in Yinchuan.
Mobile Library Subsection
(Or I'm traveling again, which at least provides an excuse for the pitiful lack of updates. Sorry to all who read here regularly, or hope to again in the future ... In the meantime, you know there are plenty of music related places to read at the musicblog megalist over at rockcritics. You already got their number.)
New books alert:
British music journalist Steve Turner waxes "evangelical" about the man in black in his new biography, "The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love, and Faith of an American Legend."
ok, you have to watch a cadillac ad to read a book review)
Special new books on the shelf as of today:
Genya Ravan's autobiography "Lollipop Lounge: Memoirs of a Rock n Roll Refugee"
is in the bookstores as of today.
And there will be a book signing party on SEPTEMBER 29TH FROM 6-8 pm at 'THE CUTTING ROOM', 19 West 24th street (between 6th Avenue and Broadway) NYC.
Plus, great news! Genya's pair of early solo lp's are at long last available in CD format.
More information available at the big, bold, black and fuschia genya ravan website
as NEW NEWS.
(Now to get at least the best of Ten Wheel Drive released on CD ... or you won't know what it is you missed the first time around!)
On the allure of vinyl and tapes
"Another part of it may have to do with the fragility of those formats, and thus, their impermanence. Some people, like yours truly, have a deeper appreciation for things they know won't last forever. Tapes are notorious for getting tangled in the machine, and records are so easy to scratch or break. That fragility gives the format a certain sense of awe, I think. I remember when I was little, it seemed like my mother's records were objects to be revered while handled oh-so-delicately; I didn't even want to breathe while holding them, lest I drop and break or scratch them."
[More next time on the art of mixed tapes next time from Rae ("Don't call it a comeback") Licari.]
"Mostly, when I go someplace where they have music playing, I ask them to turn it off because it's in competition with the music I'm hearing in my head."
Tilson Thomas (and Elvis Costello).
Music from Elsewhere
Jezek's Dark Blue Room
explained by Czech music historian (from Encore
: introducing Czech composers, performers and ensembles, and news from the world of Czech classical music. Also, Magic Carpet:
exploring the wealth of Czech 'world music', breaking down the barriers of traditional genres. )
Poor, poor pitiful me's = poor, poor pitiful us
" I recently switched my job title from pop music critic to critic at large. I thought I did this so I could cover more cultural turf. Now I realize I must have done it so I could run away from the most boring pop music scene since the pre-Elvis wasteland. Ask not for whom the death knell tolls, all ye popularazzi. It tolls for thee."
Neva Chonin: We who are about to mock salute you
Sister, I'm sorry for your pain and anguish. I can relate to the agonies of profession. You have to be tough to look at pop culture.
There's still good music to be found, have no fear. But as you suspect and know, it likely resides elsewhere than the place you described.
I write to say only I had a helluva good time today listening to Jony Iliev doing the asphalt tango
. I wish you could have shared that music with us today, as beguiling as a bower of blossoms, and experienced the joy that grew as the music wafted through the air.
From the moment in February 1902 when Enrico Caruso cut through the surface crackle in a Milan hotel room, to the era which MTV convinced that music was nothing without image, recording has been the most successful disseminator of culture since Guttenberg.
(From "The Definitive CDs" By Norman Lebrecht
/ September 1, 2004)
Our Right to Rock: The Chilling Effect
Miami Herald staff warned about political concerts
From: Fiedler, Tom
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 2:46 PM
To: [Miami Herald newsroom]
Subject: political concerts
Beginning in just a few days and likely extending until Election Day on Nov. 2, fund-raising concerts and events will be waved temptingly in front of us featuring such celebrities as Shaq O'Neill [sic], Bruce Springsteen and many more. Don't succumb.
This isn't about the celebrities and their own political persuasions, but about the events themselves. The money generated by ticket sales to many events will be earmarked directly or indirectly to groups whose mission is to influence the outcome of the election. As you know and understand, it is improper for independent journalists -- which we are -- to engage in partisan politics or to advocate for political causes. In this case, buying a ticket to any of these events is tantamount to making a political contribution, which is prohibited by the newsroom's Guidelines on Ethics. (Accepting a free ticket to go to one of these concerts is at least as unethical as buying one, maybe more).
Avoiding conflicts of interest, real and perceived, is one of the compromises that we accept as Miami Herald journalists. This applies irrespective of the assignment you have. Even if your job here doesn't entail covering politics, you do represent The Herald wherever you go.
My advice: Unless you are covering one of these partisan events as a working journalist, stay away.
via Music Journalist)
Critical Noir: Mark Anthony Neal on "Our Right to Rock"
The Miller Brewing Company recently came under fire from certain groups for not including any Black Rockers in its commemorative can series, but they aren't the only guilty ones. Professor Neal explains.
Just found this dusty olde issue of Ethnologies (publication offered by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada) special issue as fresh today as when hot of the press, dedicated to MUSIC AND YOUTH
Byron Hawk on Baudrillard and Simulation
The actual musicians are turned into simulations on MTV which essentially snuff out their potential resistance to the dominant categories. They no longer have a specific historical context through which they arose. They are merely images on a screen, models to follow for other musicians if they want to get on MTV. The simulations, video images of the musicians and audio "images of the music, no longer refer to a situation which brought on individual resistance/expression. For example- putting gangsta-rap music on the screen completely takes it out of its historical and social context. In this context, the art was created as an expression of resistance to the feeling of domination in urban life. When white suburban kids see the videos, they have no understanding of the actual situational context- the videos are just images on the screen like all the others images on the screen that they see everyday. This takes away the "reality" of the historical context, and replaces it with hyperreality. By removing the context, MTV removes all resistant meaning. Pop music becomes a place of one-dimensionality. In the world of hyperreality, the lines between dominance and resistance, between high and low are collapsing. There is finally no distinction. There is a unification of opposition. Pop music becomes reified.
Saucy look at pop Latin music
Latin fireworks fizzle as music loses its pop
By Agustin Gurza (LA Times)
What the mainstream wants is a kind of flavor of otherness without the history, the political implications and the specific [cultural] connections that actually produce the music itself," says Professor George Lipsitz, head of U.S. studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Americans will never accept real Latin artists, says Ruben "Funkahuatl" Guevara, veteran record producer and music historian.
Special Saturday Travel Section with those oldies but goodies
Crosby, Stills, Nash and me take a train
Marrkaesh Express, a defining song of the hippy era, inspires Paul Mansfield on a journey through clear Moroccan skies.
Tomorrow in review
Two brief reads on today's music and tomorrow's journalism:
The California Aggie on What's Wrong with Music Journalism?
The Rocky Mountain interviews Lyle Lovett
on writing, music, journalism, and the shape of things to come.
"It's very much about just being who you are, no matter what the circumstance of a given day might present. Being who you are, for better or worse."
That's hard to do as the media and globalization of everything from music to groceries takes away the things that make cities, regions and genres stand out.
"That's a really accurate statement, in terms of the homogenization of our country," he says, noting that ease, convenience and immediacy seem to take the place of substance, value and tradition.
"I live in a place that's really in-between worlds at this point. It's between an old way of life that is clearly being crowded out - not just physically by people, but by the way of the world, really."
"Agriculture, for example. Local markets don't need to supply themselves with food to eat. You can go to the grocery store and get fresh vegetables all year long from different parts of the world. In the old days you ate what was in season, and it came from right around where you were.
"It's not progress that I'm opposed to, but when you see, along with change, you see values and quality of life being diminished in some way or just reverence for the way of doing things. When you see knowledge and ability being not considered or less regarded in some way, just because of the way things change, that's what's hard to see."
Lovett is a voracious learner. A former journalism major, he returns to his alma mater, Texas A&M, occasionally to speak to journalism classes, sometimes on the topic of ethics. He's in a unique position to do so: he studied journalism in college and has certainly been the topic of every type of journalism - criticism, biography, tabloid - since becoming a public figure.
"I really enjoyed journalism school," he says. "I learned English so much better writing for the daily paper in school than I ever did in English class.
"In terms of ethics, my main interest when I go back up to school and meet the kids is to see 'What do they think? What kind of journalists are we turning out? What do they consider to be ethical? What do they think is OK to do in terms of getting the story?' "
Dayton Daily News Online Operations Editor and music critic Jeff Adams died Thursday night while covering the rally for presidential candidate John Kerry. Read his obituary here
"Jeff Adams joined newspaper staff in early 1990s. A man with wide interests, Mr. Adams traveled to a newly free South Africa in 1994 and heard Nelson Mandela speak.
In an editorial, he wrote, "It was an amazing event for a white American from the suburbs. I knew listening to Mandela that night in Cape Town that I would view the world differently."
Ten years after the end of apartheid and the birth of democracy, Mr. Adams again visited South Africa, this time to promote Kids Voting, a program intended to instill a lifelong habit of casting election ballots."
In addition to being a newsman and photojournalist, Jeff found time to connect with music and wrote a number of music reviews, including his look at Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony.
"Cuba and its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo" opens with a bold statement: "This is a history of music from a Cuban point of view." That's a big claim, but it's true.
It is a vital history not just of Cuban but also of Latin and American popular music. Not only does it trace Cuban music's deepest roots in Africa and Spain but also ties it together with a cultural and political history of Cuba. This is a fascinating story of how music is shaped by economics, politics and culture, and how it becomes a force of its own.
A musician, musicologist, producer, record company owner and occasional journalist with a long and passionate relationship with Cuban music, Ned Sublette is uniquely qualified to write this book.
(read more in this review in the 9-3-04 Macon Telegraph
Into indie music? Hear tell there are currently writing and editing opportunities
open at Michael Goldberg's neumu
How Frank Zappa Still Can Get Out the Vote
How Frank Zappa Still Can Get Out the Vote
A few days ago, I happened to find this yesteryear radio show streaming online, with none other than "Frank Zappa, the Fraudulent DJ
Hey, Frank Zappa! Did you know that Frank Zappa was not only a famous musician, he was also, as they used to say in show business of old, a hoofer?
It's true, and here is my muscle memory anecdote of the day. Turn the dial of your way-back machine way back in time to a summer of another political convention year, the good one of 1960. Allow images of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel to come into your mind -- flags, ribbons, and white straw plastic hats and folding tables everywhere covered with white linen table cloths. Please do, as that sets the era and the stage for my Frank Zappa story.
The Ambassador was the very place where I had been dragged every day for a week by my parents to volunteer working at the national Democratic convention. That year, JFK (that's John Fitzgerald Kennedy) had been nominated as the candidate for President. And there, as an impressionable pre-teen, I saw the powerful and the mighty from afar and came close to some. I saw Lyndon Johnson and his entourage, all in suits and ties in LA, swing through some double doors. I shook hands with Stuart Symington upon introduction, and I had actually said hello to Ted Kennedy on his later whistlestop at Pomona headquarters.
Back in that warm summer of a distant time, a pink lemonade kind of season, Frank Zappa and my sister knew each other at college and he'd visit our home often.
Anyway, that same summer Frank actively participated with my family and neighbors in getting out the vote back then when JFK (Jack Kennedy) was nominated to run for the Presidency on the Democratic ticket. This is a true story, and this is how it happened.
In our small town, our neighbor, Mike, was the precinct captain and a milk man by trade. One summer day, slightly after the convention, he just walked over, rang our doorbell, and got our whole household and our friends actively involved. Mike said that in his job, he walked up to the front doors of homes every single day of his life and talked with the people who lived there, and we could do that, too.
We worked for months in our spare time hitting the precincts. I was too young to register voters, but Frank and my sister did. (And I’ll bet our neighbors wish they’d known Frank was going to become so famous and so would have saved their registration receipt with his signature at the bottom.) Always reminding people to study the differences between the candidates and to vote. I helped by hanging literature on their doorknobs if the people weren’t home to speak with, but I preferred to hand it to them personally. The goal was to get every single complacent, discouraged, or undecided person off their couch, get registered, and get down to the polls and vote ... for the good candidate, our candidate.
Well, it worked! We continued on to the last minute, right up to election day all the way up to moments before the polls closed, we all went door to door to remind registered Democrats to vote. My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I recall hearing Frank even drove more than one or two elderly ladies to the polls that afternoon and on into the evening.
But it worked! It all worked out for the absolute best! For the first time in the history of California, a voting precinct reported a 100% turn out (who cares if it was only for one party, it was for the right one!) and Frank Zappa helped it happen
. Frank Zappa helped make political history that day!!
Think about it. Every single registered Democrat cast their votes. EVERYBODY VOTED BECAUSE THEY KNEW THE ELECTION WAS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT (Remember who was running on the Republican ticket for the Presidency back in that election? Richard Nixon ... a vote for the Democratic presidential candidate served a double purpose -- it was also a vote against THAT guy.)
ONE HUNDRED PER CENT DEMOCRATIC VOTER TURN OUT HELPED BAT THAT GUY AWAY FROM POLITICAL POWER RIGHT THEN!!
Granted, this was only one small precinct. But that being said and done, that also says there can be an active, informed, and engaged populace. Even if only in microscopic precinct size, still ... the fact that one precinct did it, that means there can be more! It made me very proud of my community. And proud of the odd cast of characters who’d banded together and worked together for all those months prior to the election night for such a noble cause.
Although a small victory (I tell you, I was aware even then that ours was just a single precinct in a single small town in California), we all felt proud of helping that to happen. The report of 100% voter turnout was so newsworthy, it even made it on to the major metropolitan tv news broadcast from Los Angeles and we celebrated in the living room because we even heard it on the tv news ourselves. We heard about something we'd done on the tv!! And our guy WON the national election! We watched the news late late late into the evening, until the very last vote was reported,
(I recall seeing somewhere a picture of Frank Zappa holding an oversized pencil towards the camera with the word "VOTE" over his head. I can't find it anywhere right now, but insert the image of it here.)
It's funny how memory works, you know. All this came back to me a few days ago after I spent six hours on a hot summer day walking a neighborhood in a small town precinct, searching for non-registered voters, and encouraging the Democrats to vote. And I couldn't help remembering Frank Zappa and the first time I'd walked the neighborhood precincts with my family and our friends. It's kind of fun. I mean, you think you might know all the people in the neighborhood, but you never really know who you're going to meet there.
(Last piece standing of Ambassador Hotel ... all photos courtesy of Vintage Los Angeles)
Up in the mornin' and off to school dept.
Jeff Buckley's Class Act
(Remembering Jeff Buckley's drop-in to a NY poetry class.)
"Nor is there anything exclusively antipodean in this sudden hankering for bygone eras."
And so David Cohen writes about what he sees as wrong with today's music press, in
the "UA Syndrome and death of rock'n'roll mags."
Addendum: Well, David, I suspected an arts piece in a business magazine might not look generously at certain (anti-consumer) bygone eras and I understand the lack of warm and fuzzy longing. You're tired of hearing about them. But maybe, just maybe, some of those people and the culture they created had something significant going on
, even though they didn't have the cash register ka-ching of cell phones and ring tones.
Sarah Hepola (East Bay Express) transcribes a celebrity telephone interview into a free learning aid. Read her "Usher in the Chumps
" or "How to write a puff piece: an instructional transcript."